Lead poisoning secondary to hyperthyroidism: report of two cases

in European Journal of Endocrinology

With long-term exposure to lead, lead accumulates in bone, where it is stored for years. These quiescent lead stores are mobilised when increased bone turnover occurs, and latent lead toxicity may then become symptomatic. Although Graves' disease is a common cause of increased bone turnover, to date hyperthyroidism has been implicated in lead poisoning only twice. We describe herein two cases of hyperthyroidism, one caused by toxic multinodular thyroid enlargement, the second by Graves' disease, leading to lead poisoning. Treatment of hyperthyroidism with radioactive iodine cured both hyperthyroidism and lead poisoning and no chelating agent therapy was necessary. Lead poisoning is an important environmental health problem, and physicians must be aware of the endocrine disorders such as hyperthyroidism and hyperparathyroidism that increase bone turnover, favouring lead mobilisation. Atypical symptoms should draw the physician's attention to the possibility of lead poisoning, particularly in workers with occupational exposure to lead and in areas where lead poisoning is endemic.

 

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